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Three days of debate

UB students attend SUNY Model EU


Collin Anderson got to be the president of Cyprus for a weekend, attending European Union (EU) meetings and playing an important role in passing policies within the government.

Anderson, along with eight other members of UB's Model EU Club, attended the 2013 SUNY Model EU held at the SUNY Global Center in New York City from April 11-13. Anderson, a senior political science major, said it was their third time taking part in this annual simulation. There were a total of 12 participating schools in the simulation, including four from overseas.

Nicholas Nicoletti, a Ph.D. student in political science and the club's faculty adviser, said each school was assigned a country and took on an alter ego of the heads of government and they debated about policies, as the EU would do. Students took on the unique roles of being representatives of a member country within the EU and the debate.

"It tries to teach students how politics inside the EU are run and that's the ultimate goal of the conference," Anderson said. "It's for everyone to get a feel of how the EU works and what it's like to be in a position debating against countries that don't agree with you and trying to come to some compromise about whatever topic you're discussing."

It was the first time Donald Anderson, a junior international trade major, had attended a SUNY Model EU conference and he was "thrilled" with what he gained from it. Though it was hard to prepare for, the conference gave him new perspectives. He had no prior experience with SUNY Model EU but still found it to be a unique experience having to collaborate with different personalities.

Nicoletti said students get to learn how to formally debate on a topic in an arena with people not just from New York, but from Europe, too, due to the huge European presence at SUNY Model EU conferences. Anderson said things may get heated during the debates, but that's part of the fun. In the process, students get to work on their negotiation skills.

"At the core of it, it's about understanding the European Union better ... they learn a lot about how hard it is to negotiate right with other people when you have individual interests that you want to maintain but also want to further the supranational interests," Nicoletti said.

Anderson thinks the EU isn't viewed as highly as it should be. Although he believes there could be many on campus who are potentially interested in joining the club, there are also those who overlook the importance of the EU. Anderson said most people would look to the United Nations as a supranational organization while forgetting about the EU's presence.

"I think a lot of people underestimate of the importance of the EU as an entity, a lot of people don't think about the supranational organizations except for the UN but the EU for Europeans is extremely important," Anderson said. "It's basically been guiding the development of Europe since it was founded. And it also is important because it shows us what supranational organizations do."

However, the members of UB Model EU Club hope to educate current and future members on the EU through their meetings. They have already begun working on this by having all of their members give individual presentations on various aspects of the EU.

"This year what we did was during our meetings we explained and went through how the EU works," Anderson said. "That will be the plan for future meetings so that anyone can join and they would have to understand the EU before the conference happens."

Nicoletti hopes for the club to gain more presence on campus and wants it to spread more awareness. Since it began functioning three years ago, the club has been running independently without funds from the Student Association. The club has already filed the necessary paperwork to be recognized by SA, according to Collin Anderson."We want to keep membership and interest alive," Anderson said. "We like to go with a large presence to the conferences. And we feel that because UB is the largest school in the SUNY system, there should be more than just eight of us going."

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